by Dan Savage
on Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 2:48 PM
My daughter, age five, is about to move out of state with her mother. It's been a vexed process, one that involving years of wrangling in court, and I'll be seeing less of her now, which is sad. But it's not goodbye forever.
I decided a couple of days ago that I might like to get her initials tattooed on my arm as a statement of my enduring love, and got a couple of designs made at a local tattoo parlor. However when I told my partner of three years—the woman for whom I left my already disintegrating marriage—that I was intending to do this, she freaked out completely. She informed me that if I went ahead with the tattoo that it would be the last time she a) looked at my arm and b) slept in the same bed as me. She has admitted that these feelings are caused by jealousy. Whether she was 100% serious when all this came out of her mouth, I don't know. But it's now turned into a bitter ultimatum—after about 15 minutes' vexed discussion—and she says it makes her feel weird, and that my plan is "trailer trashy" and that this is the sort of thing a pedophile would do. I am shocked by her reaction.
Firstly, Dan, I feel unable to express my legitimate love for my daughter via a gesture which millions of people round the globe would find totally acceptable. Secondly, I feel my partner's kneejerk, kick-in-the-balls reaction has put me in a position where if I don't get the tattoo (and maybe I could have been talked out of it had she engaged me like I was a rational human being and not a psychiatric patient) I will have been steamrolled out of something in a way that sets a hideous precedent for our relationship. Thirdly, what the fuck???
She challenged me to ask you what you thought. I told her she risked my receiving a "DTMFA" in response. Who's right?
A Tat Unreasonable?
P.S. I put down a $50 non-refundable deposit at the tattoo parlor, which I will lose if I don't get something done. Should I a) let it go for the sake of peace, b) use it on something other than my daughter's initials, like a fist with an unfurled middle finger, or c) just do what I want since it's my fucking arm?
My response after the jump...
Or, you know, not. It's called "advice" and not "binding arbitration" for all sorts of reasons. You don't gotta DTMFA her just because I said so.
But you do gotta get that tattoo.
Because I said so, first and foremost, but also because as you've gotta stand up to your girlfriend's emotional blackmail, irrational ultimatums, and general batshittery. Allowing her to get her way on this issue would, as you fear, set a hideous precedent. Tantrums—and threats and ultimatums and batshittery—continue so long as they work. Don't let the tantrum work. And if she DTMFAs you after you get the tattoo, ATU, good riddance to batshit rubbish.
And a few words for ATU's girlfriend: It's not like your boyfriend was planning to get his ex-wife's initials tattooed on his arm. We're talking about his daughter's initials. His ex may be his ex, ATU, but his daughter is and always will be his daughter. Anyone who feels jealous when confronted with evidence of their current partner's affections for a child from a previous relationship—and anyone who compares a father's love for his daughter to a pedophile's lust for a child—has issues that I could, if I cared to, unpack here in the unlimited space available to me on the Interwebs. But I don't care to. I'm just gonna say this: you love a man who has a child that he loves. If you can't love that child too, lady, and if you can't see your boyfriend's feelings for his daughter as a credit to his character, then there's something terribly, terribly wrong with you.